The food processing industry includes: fruit and vegetables, dairy products, meat and fish, grain mill and bakery products, sugar and confectionery products, fats and oils, and frozen, packaged, and convenience foods. The industry is a large user water. As a result, opportunities for water and wastewater treatment are numerous.
The most common water impurities in the food processing industry that need removal are suspended solids, microorganisms, organic matter, color, taste, and odor. Food industry effluents are generally high in BOD as well as SS.
These effluents are treated with biological methods as a primary treatment.
Other contaminants of food-processing wastewater, particularly from meat, poultry and seafood processing facilities, are pathogenic organisms. Wastewater with high pathogen levels must be disinfected prior to discharge. Typically, chlorine (free or combined) is used as a disinfectant. Ozone, UV radiation, and other nontraditional disinfection processes have steadily gained acceptance due to stricter regulations on the amount of residual chlorine levels in discharged wastewater.
Despite the mature nature of the food and beverage industry, the sale of water treatment equipment has grown from about $200 MM in 2000 to nearly $325 MM in 2008 with growth of 6-7% annually. Regulation and legislative compliance are driving the upgrade of technology in this sector since growth of the underlying market is not very high.
Ozone has played an increasingly important role in this industry since ozone is an outstanding disinfectant, has a short lived residual and is FDA approved for such use.